On this day – International Nurses day (12 May 2015) – Plunket wants to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our frontline nurses. As Jenny Prince. Plunket CEO said “It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse and even more so to be a Plunket Nurse.”
Plunket Nurses have been the face of Plunket for many years and represent the care and support we want for young children in New Zealand. And if there is one person who knows a lot about how nursing and Plunket it is Anne Cressey (Kerley) who was part of Plunket’s nursing team for 34 years.
Anne began her nursing training in 1952 with a promise from her father that she could come home to the farm in Katikati if after a year she didn’t like it. Anne didn’t return to the farm after a year. She went on to finish her training in 1955 taking up a staff nurse night duty role at Auckland Hospital once she graduated.
Working at night with sick children didn’t answer Anne’s calling though and it was after someone suggested Plunket, that Anne found herself heading to Wellington by train, taking a boat to Christchurch and then a bus to Dunedin to take up 16 weeks of training in the Truby King Harris Hospital in Anderson Bay Dunedin.
This was the beginning of a long and varied career within Plunket. Her initial disappointment at being too young to go out as a District Nurse and instead taking up a role as Sister at Karitane Hospital Dunedin turned out for the best.
“I loved helping the mothers,” says Anne. “I see them now around town and they still remember me and even tell their children – this was your Plunket Nurse.”
In 1957, Anne took part Plunket’s 50 year celebrations with a Vice Regal Ball and telephone Appeal to raise funds to secure the future of the society. She wasn’t to know at the time that 50 years on she would be part of the Centenary celebrations having been a big part of Plunket during the years in between.
Anne’s work with Plunket meant she visited mothers in their homes every 2-3 weeks until the baby was 3 months old then mothers came regularly to clinics, where just as they do today, they talked about breastfeeding, introducing solids, developmental progress and tested hearing and sight. Working Saturday mornings the Nurses took antenatal classes and even taught basic mothercraft in schools.
“We had good training and we helped mothers get enjoyment from their children. Being part of a mother’s group meant they were part of their community, less isolated and I know they made friends then that they probably still enjoy in old age,” Anne says.
Anne went on from frontline nursing to become the Deputy and then Director of Plunket’s Nursing Services. She retired in 1991, but her connection didn’t end there: she continues to be an enthusiastic Plunket supporter through regular donations – and a treasured part of our history.
Anne was one of hundreds of nurses who have been part of Plunket over the years and played a large part in helping parents raise generations of New Zealanders.
Jenny Prince says, “Today, International Nurses Day, is just one day of the year to say thank you to generations of Plunket Nurses for helping, as Anne says, find enjoyment in their children.”
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